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The COP21 Innovation Jam Recap

4 minutes to read

Last night at COP21, Student Energy hosted an intergenerational meeting of the minds focused on creating tangible solutions to our pressing energy and climate challenges.

In partnership with Imaginea Energy, a group of youth, academia, industry, climate researchers and politicians was gathered for Student Energy’s first Innovation Jam event to take place outside of the bi-annual International Student Energy Summit

The purpose of the Innovation Jam is to spend less time talking about the problems we face and more time actively working on solutions to these challenges. Structured similar to an “Unconference”, every attendee that wanted to was able to pitch an idea for how we can transform our energy system. The remaining attendees then got to vote with their feet and join the tables or conversations that most interested them to work for almost 90 minutes. Over the course of the evening, groups formed around each of the following subjects and ideas

  • Green Growth – What is the upper limit of human growth?
  • Distributed generation and demand response in our electricity system
  • Prototyping of a shopping app or amazon store that specifically tracks the carbon footprint of products to add transparency to our purchases and enable offsets for our purchases
  • A working group on how we can get the “average” citizen more deeply engaged in energy and climate issues
  • A team looked at the global emissions embodied within food waste and what structural solutions could reduce food waste and to optimize food transpiration
  • How the existing oil & gas industry can be true pioneers by changing the fossil fuel industry from the inside and serve as a means of technology adoption for new research and ideas
  • The role that China and specifically Chinese youth will play in transitioning to a more sustainable energy system – focusing on how we can better engage these youth in an international dialogue


An opening talk from Imaginea CEO, Suzanne West outlined the need for new energy and climate solutions that value people, profit and planet. Suzanne then followed up on this with a specific list of the waste, pollution, resources and challenges that plague the existing oil and gas industry.  It was refreshing to hear an energy industry CEO speak so openly and candidly about the actual problems preventing oil and gas companies from being more environmentally friendly, and backing that up with an interest in seeking solutions to these problems.


The final speech of the night was from Travis Bradford, Columbia University’s  Director of Energy and Environment in their School of International and Public Affairs. Travis focused on the need for us to take a multidisciplinary approach to energy and climate issues, with a particular focus on openly sharing ideas. This requires trust and openness but is the only way to truly scale your idea into something meaningful and impactful. A particularly poignant quote was “You need to trust that the person beside you is going to make you better”


It was an honour for the Student Energy team to host our first event at COP and we are particularly proud that youth from every single continent were able to participate.

To stay connected to Student Energy consider becoming an official member today: https://www.studentenergy.org/jointhemovement